Hitting it big

Many aspiring actors face months, even years, of rejection waiting for their big break.

Alaina Hoolihan, 19, got a job at her first television audition.

The 2012 Howland High School graduate is a principal dancer on ”Hit the Floor,” a new series that premieres at 9 p.m. today on VH1.

Hoolihan is one of the Devil Girls, a dance team for a professional basketball franchise (think Laker Girls) that turns out to be more popular with fans than the sports team it supports. Plots revolve around the professional and personal dramas in the characters’ lives, leaving plenty of room in between for intricate dance routines.

”They get harder and harder each episode,” Hoolihan said. ”They’re crazy. Everyone is going to be shocked. The choreography is incredible.”

Hoolihan started taking dance lessons at age 3 and studied at James Dance & Performing Arts Center throughout her childhood. By the time she was 6 years old, she knew she wanted to be a professional dancer or a dance teacher.

She was leaning toward studying dance at college until she went to California over spring break of her senior year in high school to visit her sister Ashley, who also is an aspiring dancer / actor. McDonald Selznick Associates, an agency that specializes in representing dancers and choreographers, was having an open call while she was visiting. After the audition, they signed on as her agents.

”Dancing (professionally) definitely was my main focus, but I didn’t know I could do it that quickly,” she said.

So, instead of heading to college, Hoolihan moved to Los Angeles – with her mother’s blessing.

”I supported it 100 percent,” Maribeth Hoolihan said. ”She had some nice scholarships, but I knew (Los Angeles) was where she wanted to go.”

The pilot for ”Hit the Floor” already had been shot when Hoolihan auditioned last October, and her tumbling background helped her stand out among the 300 or so dancers who showed up for the final auditions

”I was home for Thanksgiving when I got the call that I got the part,” she said.

Hoolihan, who is the youngest member of the dance crew, isn’t in the episode that airs tonight, but she will be seen in the other nine episodes that are part of the first season. While she was cast primarily as a dancer, she said he character, Billie, has a few lines of dialogue. And now that she’s in the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, she’s hoping to do more acting.

In addition to airing on VH1 in the U.S., the show has been picked up in many international markets. If VH1 orders a second season, Hoolihan could be back at work as early as August, although Hoolihan said spending her days on the Paramount Pictures lot didn’t feel like work.

”I got to work there every day, and it didn’t feel like a job until I got my first paycheck,” she said. ”I’m getting paid this much to come here?”